Title: Pecan production guide for Florida
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00084516/00001
 Material Information
Title: Pecan production guide for Florida
Series Title: Pecan production guide for Florida
Physical Description: Book
Creator: Lawrence, Fred P.
Publisher: Agricultural Extension Service, University of Florida
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Bibliographic ID: UF00084516
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
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Resource Identifier: oclc - 221299413

Full Text



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Variety -----------------..
Site Selection ----------------
Time of Planting ------. -----.
Selecting Trees .. ---
Tree Size -------- ------
Pre Planting Care
Soil Preparation and Tree Spacing
Transplanting ----------------
Care of Young Trees ----------

Management For Pecans Alone -----
Management For Production of an Intercrop
Management For Pasture ....-

Lime, Calcium and Magnesium .------

Rosette -...-----. -----------



INSECTS AND DISEASES -- ----.----. ----

GENERAL --.........-.. ------------






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Pecan Production Guide

For Florida

Fred P. Lawrence, Citriculturist,
Agricultural Extension Service

Planting the New Orchard

Pecan variety is often a
critically important factor in
production. In many cases
apparently promising varie-
ties have been abandoned be-
cause of their susceptibility
to scab or because of poor
nut development. In new
plantings use only scab resis-
tant varieties. Under the cli-
matic conditions of north and
northwest Florida, recom-
mended varieties include: De-
sirable, Curtis, Elliott and
Stuart. Promising new vari-
eties for trial plantings are:
Barton, Mahan-Stuart, Pen-
sacola Cluster, Davis and
Harris Super.

Site Selection
Selection of soil is of major
importance in planting com-
mercial orchards. Under Flor-
ida conditions the surface
soil should be sand to sandy-
loam texture and well-drained
to 60 to 72 inches is ideal.
Avoid soils with less than 36
inches of well-drained light-
textured material in the sur-

face. Trees growing on shal-
low soils may be damaged by
drought or excessive mois-
ture and may prove to be un-
economical. Likewise, avoid
soils with high water tables
or hardpan, hard plastic or
tight clay subsoils.
Good air drainage is not as
important as good soil drain-
age but low spots are poten-
tial sources of cold injury and
scab infection. Scab control
in such locations is usually
more difficult.

Time of Planting
Plant pecan trees as soon as
possible after they become
dormant. Late December and
January are preferable times
but trees may be planted
through March. Young trees
should be set early during the
dormant period so the roots
will become partly established
before leaf growth starts in
the spring. When this is done,
growth will start more vigor-
ously in the spring than with
later plantings.

Selecting Trees
Select varieties that are
capable of producing good
yields of high quality nuts
and which will require a mini-
mum of disease control. The
nursery trees should be in
good condition, vigorous and

Tree Size
Four to five foot trees are
probably the best size to
transplant. They cost less
than larger trees and are less
apt to die. Larger trees take
more labor to transplant and
frequently more post-planting

Pre-Planting Care
Purchase trees from a reli-
able nursery. Trees from near-
by nurseries are usually bet-
ter adapted to your soils and
climate; also the danger of
root systems drying out in
shipment is less. Arrange

with the nurseryman to have
trees dug and delivered on
the same day you intend to
transplant them. If all trees
cannot be transplanted soon

after arrival, heel them in wet
sawdust or soil. NEVER let
the roots dry by exposure to
the sun and wind (even for
short periods!). When heel-
ing-in, be sure all roots are
well covered and apply water
as needed.

Soil Preparation
and Tree Spacing
Put soil in good condition
by plowing under all vegeta-
tion and thoroughly disking.
Prior to planting stake off
field, spacing the trees not less
than 50 or 60 feet apart each
way. Spacing of more than
60 feet, under Florida condi-
tions, is uneconomical be-
cause of slower tree growth.
The orchard is generally laid
out by the square method,
but where terracing is neces-
sary plant on the contour.

~- --- ---- -----j
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.------L ----- .-------

When you are ready to set,
take the bales or boxes of
trees to the field. Don't per-
mit the roots to dry when the
trees are uncrated. Holes 20
to 30 inches in diameter and
24 to 36 inches deep are neces-

Dig Large Holes

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sary to accommodate the root
systems. Mixtures of peat or
top soil could prove beneficial
for better moisture holding
capacity and root growth. Use
care in setting and placing the
roots and filling in the hole
with earth. For best results,
place the roots in as near a
normal position and at the
same depth as in the nursery
as possible. Prune broken and
damaged roots.

Bend the Roots

Remove one-third to one-
half of the top of the tree
when setting, to approach a
balance between top and
roots. This gives the tree a
better opportunity to live and
simplifies the problem of prop-
er heading later.
Press the soil firmly as the
hole is filled, leaving it about
as it was when the trees were

growing in the nursery. Use
about five gallons of water
around each tree when the
hole is three-quarters full of
soil. In filling the holes firm
the soil to the top, leaving a
slight depression around the
base of the tree. During the


first year after trees are
transplanted water them sev-
eral times if there is insuffi-
cient rainfall.

Care of Young
Probably the highest per-
centage of young tree losses
is during the first summer
after transplanting to the
field. Losses are usually from
failure to water adequately
or control weeds and grass. It
is wise to wrap trunks of
new-set trees to protect trunk

Remove ':-.. to /2 top
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-3ft .- -f

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from sunburn during their
first summer and also from
freeze injury through the
winter. Material such as card-
board, heavy paper, moss,
etc., may be used. For an
average year, watering two or
three times during the spring
may be sufficient but much
more frequent watering may
be required. After the first
year the young pecans should
be well enough established to
withstand anything but the
most severe drought.
Over fertilization is a com-
mon fault in the management
of young trees. No fertilizer
should be used at the time of
planting. The young tree may

be given an early summer
fertilization between June 1
and July 1, of no more than
one pound of 8-8-8 spread
evenly over the soil six inches
from the trunk outward to a
distance of three and one-half
feet. The second year fer-
tilize the trees with one pound
of 8-8-8 in February and an-
other pound of 8-8-8 in early
July. Avoid late summer fer-
tilization of young trees since
it may stimulate a late flush
of growth which could result
in serious freeze damage.
After the second year, fertili-
zation of the young trees de-
pends upon the cropping sys-
tem followed.

Managing the Bearing


Since pecan nuts are borne
terminally on the current sea-
son's growth, it is highly de-
sirable to manage pecans so
that vigorous twig growth is
obtained which can produce
good crops. The maintenance
of such growth requires a
fairly high level of soil fer-
tility. Although the costs of
maintaining adequate fertility
for the pecans alone will be
more than justified in a good
orchard over a period of
years, returns are not always
on an annual basis. A number
of years are required to get
an orchard into economic pro-

duction. The advantages of
management systems that
permit an annual net return
from land planted to pecans
are obvious.
Over the years three rather
distinct forms of management
have been developed for pecan
orchards in Florida: (1) Man-
agement for pecans alone; (2)
Management for production
of an intercrop; and (3) Man-
agement for pasture. The key
to successful operation of any
one of these management pro-
grams is maintaining the soil
fertility level high enough to
encourage good nut yields.

For Pecans Alone
This system of manage-
ment may consist of simply
fertilizing the trees as requir-
ed and controlling the native
cover as necessary for harvest
and spray operation. Usually
it includes a summer or win-
ter legume, or both. Summer
legumes may include hairy
indigo, the crotalarias and
beggar weed; the principal
winter legumes are crimson
clover, lupine, white clover
and annual white sweetclover.
The usual practice is to
grow a winter legume ferti-
lized with 300 to 400 pounds
per acre of 0-10-20 on the
sands and loamy sands, or 400
to 500 pounds per acre of
0-14-14 on the sandy loams or
heavier-textures soils. The
legume may or may not be
plowed down in the spring. A
native cover is permitted to
grow in the summer, its den-
sity being largely dependent
upon the fertility of the soil
and the amount of shade af-
forded by the trees.

Management For
Production of
an Intercrop
This system was originally
recommended as an economi-
cal way to take care of an
orchard while bringing it into
production. Cash crops are
grown in some mature groves
and are planted as close to

the trees as it is possible to
operate the farm equipment
without damaging the trunks.
This practice, where the soil
is worked to a depth of not
more than five to seven
inches, apparently has had no
adverse effect upon the trees.
Production of cash inter-
crops in mature orchards is
limited largely to beans,
sweet corn and other veget-
ables that can be grown in
the early spring before the
trees come into leaf. Some
grove owners lease their or-
chards to other farmers for
the production of such inter-
crops. One very important
term in the lease is the quan-
tity of fertilizer the vegetable
grower guarantees to use.
Usually the amount used is
adequate for both the vege-
table crop and the trees, es-
pecially when a summer or
winter legume is included in
the cropping system.
In Georgia, peaches are
commonly interplanted with
pecans since the pecans usu-
ally come into bearing about
the time the peach trees are
exhausted. With introduction
of adapted peaches in Florida
this offers a new possibility
for intercropping.
For Pasture
Pecan groves have long been
used as supplementary pas-
tures, but when fertility re-
quirements are neglected, the

result is detrimental to the
pecans. With proper manage-
ment practices, which in-
cludes growing legumes and
adequate fertilization for both
pasture and trees, pecan or-
chards in pastures can be a
very profitable "two story"
agricultural practice.
A few pecan orchards have
been planted to grass pasture
without legumes. This prac-
tice is usually detrimental to

the trees because the usual
rate of fertilization is not
high enough to maintain a
productive fertility level. If
grass alone is grown in the
pecan grove, the minimum
fertilizer program to keep the
trees reasonably productive
would be annual fertilization
with 8-8-8 at 600 pounds per
acre, plus 100 pounds of nitro-
gen per acre as supplemental
top dressing.

Fertilizer Requirements

of the Orchard

The fertilization of pecans
may vary widely, depending
upon the general system of
management selected. For
young trees a recommended
fertilization is one and one-
half to two pounds of 8-8-8
for each year of tree age.
Apply this fertilizer in the
early spring and spread even-
ly from two feet of the trunk
to just beyond the branch
spread of the tree. As the
trees develop in size indivi-
dual fertilization of the trees,
in some systems of manage-
ment, may be gradually dis-
carded in favor of a general
fertilization of the entire area
occupied by the grove.
Mature trees may also be
fertilized with 8-8-8 or similar
mixed fertilizers at rates of
1000 to 1200 pounds per acre.

Lime, Calcium
and Magnesium
For many years pecan
growers in Florida and other
Southeastern s t a t e s have
avoided the use of lime be-
cause they feared an increase
in pecan rosette, or zinc defi-
ciency. Recent experiments
have indicated that a general
increase in soil fertility may
stimulate tree growth and the
development of rosette far
more than the addition of
lime. Proper precautions
should be taken to guard
against the development of
rosette, but the lack of zinc
should not be used as an ex-
cuse to permit general de-
terioration of other factors
important to maintaining soil
condition and fertility. Most

Florida orchards will need
zinc sulfate on a regular basis
either as annual sprays or
one unit zinc oxide (ZnO) in
the fertilizer.
The proper use of lime in
the orchard is the key to the
best management practices,
since it reduces the leaching
of fertilizer phosphorus and
potassium, and increases the
soil pH to levels more suit-
able for maximum growth
and nitrogen fixation by le-
guminous cover crops.
Orchard soils should be
limed to the range of pH 5.5
to 6.0 if no leguminous cover
crop is grown and from pH 6.0
to 6.5 when such a cover crop
is used. In correcting the pH,
the pecan grower should ar-
range through his county
agent for a soil test so that
the proper quantity of liming
material can be applied.
On the sandier soils, dolo-
mite should generally be used
rather than high calcic lime-
stone as many pecan orchards
are low in magnesium.

Rosette is a physiological
disorder of pecan trees caused
by a lack of sufficient zinc to
produce normal growth. In
severe cases it may cause
twigs and eventually branches
to die back; growth and de-
velopment of the trees are
greatly retarded.
This condition is corrected
by the application of zinc in
some form that will become
available to the tree. In cor-
recting rosette of zinc defici-
ency in mature trees, two to
three pounds of zinc sulfate
per tree spread evenly under
the branches is usually suffi-
cient on sandy soils. Heavier
textured soils may require as
much as ten pounds per tree
to correct the condition. For
very young trees two to four
ounces will be sufficient.
Rosette may also be cor-
rected by direct sprays on the
foliage. If trees are sprayed
with zinc for scab control
rosette should not be a prob-

Rejuvenation of Neglected


A number of orchards in
the pecan belt of Florida have
been neglected to such an
extent that they are liabili-
ties rather than assets. Some
of them can be reclaimed and
put into profitable production
by proper fertilization and

management. In selecting an
orchard for rejuvenation the
grower must first determine
that there is a reasonable
chance that it can be made
productive. The soil must be
examined to determine that
there is ample light-textured

soil above the clay and that
no hardpans, claypans or high
water tables are present. The
trees should be checked to be
certain that they are of pro-
lific varieties known to pro-
duce satisfactorily in the
area. These two factors, va-
rieties and soil, are the most
important in determining
whether rejuvenation can be
In rejuvenating the neglec-
ted orchard the undergrowth
of briars, bushes and young
forest trees must be removed.
Then it should be thoroughly
disked to a depth of three or
four inches. Orchards on roll-
ing land, subject to erosion,
will require a system of ter-
races or sod strips to prevent
undue washing after cultiva-
tion has been started.
The trees can be brought
back slowly by initiating a
regular orchard management
program, but it must be re-
membered that soils in a
neglected orchard may be
far below a productive level
of fertility. It may be desir-
able to use extra fertilizer to
overcome the deficiency in
fertility and re-establish rapid
vigorous growth as quickly as

Spanish Moss
Spanish moss causes trouble
in pecans because of shading
which retards growth especi-
ally when trees become heavi-

possible. If this is the case,
the trees should be fertilized
heavily the first year, especi-
ally with nitrogen. Neglected
trees with a trunk circumfer-
ence of two to three feet
should be fertilized with eight
to ten pounds of nitrogen (24
to 30 pounds of ammonium
nitrate) and four or five
pounds of potash (7 to 10
pounds of muriate of potash)
per tree. This should be
broadcast under the branch
spread of the tree. The best
time for this initial fertiliza-
tion is between December 15
and February 1. Since neglect-
ed orchards are often zinc de-
ficient, it would be well to
apply two and one-half pounds
of zinc sulfate per tree at the
same time.
As far as practicable, dead
branches should be pruned
out together with such other
branches as necessary, to aid
in development of well
branched symmetrical trees.
All wounds should be kept
covered with a protective ma-
terial until completely grown
over with new tissue. Early
in the rejuvenation program
steps should be taken to free
the tree of execessive quan-
tities of moss or mistletoe.

in Pecan Trees
ly laden with it. The usual
6-2-100 bordeaux m i x t u r e
used as a spray during the
growing season in controlling

pecan diseases has k ill ed
Spanish moss. Moss is more
commonly killed during the
dormant period by thorough-
ly wetting it with a 10-2-100
bordeaux. The dead moss

will hang in the trees for some
time but will eventually be
blown out. If the moss is
hanging in heavy, thick mas-
ses, it may require a second
application to kill all of it.

Insects and Diseases

For complete information
regarding the control of in-
sects and fungus diseases ask

your county agent for Florida
Agricultural Experiment Sta-
tion Bulletin 619A.

Pecan trees are found in practically every county in Florida;
however, all areas of the state are not adapted to commercial
production. The major commercial pecan producing areas are
the north and northwestern parts of the state. Tree growth
is often very satisfactory in the southern half of the peninsula,
but nut production is relatively light, because of climatic con-
ditions and disease.
Under the best orchard management, most varieties require
four to ten years to begin bearing and seven to twelve years to
produce commercial crops. It is therefore, highly important
that a variety comes into bearing early and bears regular

The information contained in this publication has been
extracted in many instances verbatim from The
University of Florida Agricultural Experiment Station
Bulletin 601, which is no longer in print.

(Acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914)
Agricultural Extension Service, University of Florida,
Florida State University and United States Department of Agriculture, Cooperating
M. 0. Watkins, Director

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